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From worrying about next month’s rent to where your next roll of toilet paper will come from, stress is a normal reaction to the anxiety and uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Stress can contribute to health conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and substance abuse, so it’s important to do what you can to keep it under control. Here are a few suggestions for handling stress in these trying times.

The pandemic is stressful

Everyone deals with stress differently, and how you deal with it can determine its overall impact on you. Unmanaged stress can cause changes in sleep, eating patterns, and moods, as well as worsen chronic health conditions. It can lead to increased or problematic use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

Ways to take care of yourself

  • Limit your time listening to the media. Hearing story after story about an ominous, hidden threat is upsetting and stressful. Check in on the state of things, but don’t dwell too long.
  • Get the facts and stay informed. Knowledge about the virus and understanding how to limit your risk is empowering and can relieve stress.
  • Avoid pandemic discussions (or rants) on social media. Often these discussions become heated as tempers flare and blood pressure rises. We are all concerned and doing our best to make it through. There’s no sense feeding into the uncertainty and fear. Rise above it for yourself and others.
  • Take care of your health through proper diet and exercise. Try a new healthy recipe at least twice a week, and challenge family members to competitions such as cycling challenges, backyard soccer game, or your own mini Olympics.
  • Remember: social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Call and check in with friends or elderly neighbors and interact with loved ones over Facetime or Zoom.
  • Do whatever refreshes your mind, body, and spirit — meditate, practice yoga, journal, pray, dance, listen to music, or use calming essential oils in your room diffuser.
  • Steer clear of alcohol or other addictive substances. They are not good coping strategies and can lead to even more stress and health problems.
  • There’s no better feeling than helping someone else overcome a challenge.
  • Few things relieve stress faster than a good laugh. Put on your favorite go-to comedy or binge watch funny cat videos with the kids.

Understand that it’s okay to feel anxious and worried about what may happen, especially when many aspects of life are being affected. Arm yourself with knowledge, take whatever safety precautions you can, and try to transform your experiences into positive lifestyle changes.

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